A historic moment took place at St Botolph’s Church on Lincoln High Street when the six bells which hang in the tower were removed after 108 years of service.
A full peal of the bells, lasting two and a half hours, was heard ringing out for one last time on St Botoloph’s Day on Thursday, June 17.
The dismantling process and removal of the bells began on June 21. It takes a week to complete, with the opening of trapdoors in each of the floors up through the tower.
St Botolph’s Church has now ceased to be a Church of England church as it was sold to the Greek Orthodox on June 28, who have no use for the bells. It will now be known as St Basil the Great with St Paisios of the Holy Mountain.
The six bells will now be placed into storage, pending permission to hang them in their new home at St Peter at Gowts Church just 700 yards away down the High Street. They are regarded as some of the finest bells produced by the John Taylor & Co bell foundry in Loughborough and were cast in 1913, the same year that he cast the back eight bells for Lincoln Cathedral.
The bells have been sent to a specialist bell hanger in Collingham called Tom Blyth, who will restore and clean them up before they eventually move to their new home at St Peter at Gowts. The six bells currently in St Peter at Gowts will then move to their new home at a church in Cornwall.
It is hoped that four new bells will be approved in the future, allowing a total of 10 to be installed by next some, depending on planning permission.
Rev’d Cullimore told The Lincolnite that he will now make a formal application to the Chancellor to the Diocese, who deal with architectural matters, as the tower at St Peter’s is Anglo Saxon and in a Grade I listed building.
He wants to apply to lower the frame and put a new one in further down, which will be safer and stronger and dramatically improve the sound of the bells.
The planning application will be submitted in the coming months with the aim of having the work completed by next summer. The six bells being moved and the four new bells would be installed at the same time.
The project will cost around £10,000 and an application for funding to Keltek Trust will be made, as well as looking at getting funds from other avenues.
Following the sale of St Botolph’s, Rev’d Cullimore runs three churches in Lincoln – St Peter at Gowts, St Benedict’s Church by the war memorial, and St Mary le Wigford.
He told The Lincolnite: “I’m delighted that we’ve saved St Botolphs as a church and it will now be a home for another christian community, which is a great triumph. It is wonderful to save the bells and keep them in use again once they’ve been restored.”